Not Cool Review

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Comedy, Reviews
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not-coolThe Chair is a reality show airing on the Starz channel. Two aspiring filmmakers have been given funding and provided with the same script and shooting location (Pittsburgh). Their films – Not Cool and Hollidaysburg – were released on iTunes on September 23.

At some point, broad comedy is like baseball – it all comes down to the batting average. If your aim is to toss out a joke every two or three minutes, you better hit more than you miss if you want to keep your fans happy, particularly when your misses are complete whiffs, not only unfunny, but offensive. Good news for rookie Shane Dawson: he hits well over .500 in his debut project, Not Cool. Despite an affinity for the most literal elements of potty humor and his stubborn clinging to the mistaken notion that a young woman being vomited on is a source of amusement rather than disgust, Dawson delivers in the clutch in this National Lampoon-style look at college kids back home in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving break.

Dawson is a product of the New Media, a YouTube darling who leveraged success in that format into an opportunity to make a feature film. Unlike this year’s other Internet-spawned comedy, Jason Nash is Married, Not Cool works as a complete narrative rather than a series of comedy clips strung together. A large share of the credit for this goes to screenwriter Dan Schoffer who provided the initial script, although Dawson’s considerable influence is on full view. In its best moments, Not Cool is dumb humor for smart people, throwing out gags and assuming the audience is cool enough and quick enough to get the joke. The young woman in her high school gym who says she swore she would not come back there until she developed telekinetic powers doesn’t add that she’s making a reference to Carrie.

The movie starts fast and funny with the tweets from partygoers flashing across the screen as we see the usual debauchery that occurs when a high school class returns home for Thanksgiving as college freshmen. But the worm at the bottom of the Mezcal bottle has turned for two members of the graduating class. Tori the Whorie (Cherami Leigh), a ironic nickname given that her acne rendered her radioactive in her formative years, has turned into Righteous Indy Flick Chick, sassy, sexy, and boasting a roll of condoms that could choke a whole high school football team. Prom King Scott (Dawson doing double duty), on the other hand, has become a dork. Even his long-time and now long-distance girlfriend Heather (Jorie Kosel) senses his descent and breaks up with him in a train station bathroom in what may well be the funniest glory hole bit ever filmed.

The 90 minutes of Not Cool are devoted to the questions of will these crazy kids get together and how bound are we to the identities we have in high school. Nothing earth shattering or revolutionary here, and no need for it when they bring on the funny. Yes, the dysfunctional family Thanksgiving dinner has been done to death, but get crazy Aunt Floh talking about the time she was abducted by aliens, and suddenly you’re in virgin territory. “Why can’t we have an alcoholic aunt like every other family?” asks Scott’s sister, Janie (Michelle Veintimilla). Veintimilla is a standout in a cast that skews young, attractive, and hip. With her looks and talent, Veintimilla could be penciled in for every significant Jewish American Princess comedy role for the next 10 years. Start working on your New York accent, Michelle – the call will come.

The actors are all at complete ease in front of the camera and interact so naturally with one another that the film relations seem credible. Dawson nicely complements and supports Leigh, giving her all the attention her character merits. Yes, it’s a sex comedy romp for the most part with ethnic stereotypes aplenty, but the energy is high, and Dawson wisely keeps the camera and the action moving quickly, but never frenetically. The evidence here is that Dawson is no one-shot wonder. If he grows up slightly, but not too much, say to the sensibilities of a 15-year old, and discards the scatalogical humor and the fallacy that every scene with him in drag is comedy gold, we’re all in for more treats.

Three stars.

  1. I have yet to see the movie but I am so excited to due to the fact that I am a Shane Dawson fan! I think he has a lot of admirable traits and can go far in the directing field! I can’t wait for pay day so I can buy it on ITunes!

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